Police guard streets as tensions simmer

Written By komlim puldel on Selasa, 15 Januari 2013 | 20.01

ON THE STREET: Police and people clash in Woodridge. Picture: Peter Wallis Source: The Courier-Mail

TENSIONS continue to simmer in Woodridge tonight, with two men taken away in police cars within minutes of each other.

Police are now trying to control a large group of Aboriginal residents who have gathered further down Smith St.

Shortly before 7pm, some of the members of the group were shouting expletives at the line of police that was preventing them from passing through.

Beforehand, a man was overheard telling police "all we want to do is open the dialogue" as he asked the police to let through a female elder.

The police did not comply and officers were met with abuse as they tried to move the group further down the street.

POLICE: A man is arrested at Woodridge during the fourth consecutive day of violence and tension in Woodridge. Picture: Peter Wallis

Among the group was a woman with an Aboriginal flag draped over her shoulders.

A large line of police continue to guard the intersection of Plunkett and Smith streets, as well as Douglas and Smith streets.

Earlier tonight, two men were taken away by police in separate incidents as officers tried to keep a lid on the situation.

Racial violence erupted in Logan again last night, as police struggled to separate a group of Pacific Islanders and Aborigines for the third night.

Earlier, Aboriginal residents erupted after being taunted by a car load of Pacific Islanders doing laps of the area.

Armed with weapons including a weightlifting bar and sticks, the Aboriginal men were met by a line of police who prevented them from advancing down Douglas St.

Further down the street a group of Islanders were gathered, with one seen carrying a baseball bat.

Police stopped a Ford Falcon containing Islander men and searched them by the roadside.

Racial violence erupts in Logan again on Monday afternoon. Picture: Channel Seven News

Earlier, Premier Campbell Newman said the state government would consider relocating the families involved, if they agreed.

"There are some of these people in public housing and if they wish to move to a different location so we can defuse these things - those are the sorts of things we'd do with people's co-operation," he said.

"I'd ask them to consider any offers that we might make like that."

Police today defended their response to racial tensions in the city, saying arrests "are a last resort".

Racial violence erupts in Logan again on Monday afternoon. Picture: Channel Seven News

Logan Mayor Pam Parker had called for a "zero tolerance" approach and an increase police presence after Pacific Islanders and Aborigines were involved in a dispute for a third night.

Two families living just 200m apart have blamed each other for violent clashes that have turned suburban streets into a battlefield.

Logan fire victim Treicee Taufa calls for calm

Up to 40 people fought with sticks, planks, metal bars and bricks over consecutive nights at Douglas St, Woodridge.

The Queensland Premier has told the Logan community to "cool down" as racial tensions flared during a weekend of brawls and vandalism

"We're working through behind the scenes as well to try and mediate a peaceful outcome to this," Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said this morning.

Mr Stewart called on elders and church groups to get involved to help resolve the racial tension.

"This is not going to be fixed in a day, this is not going to be fixed in a week," he said.

"I know that the churches get very much involved down there because they have very large followings of both culture groups and I ask them to take as much action as necessary to get a peaceful resolution to these current tensions."

THIN BLUE LINE: Police in Douglas Street at Woodridge. Picture: Peter Wallis

Mr Stewart said he would go to the area if requested.

"If Pam really needs me to be there I will go," he said.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin said police would "much rather negotiate" with the community.

"Arrest for police is always a last option," he said.

Racial violence in Logan. Soane Palau speaks to police yesterday after his car windows were smashed in clashes on Sunday night. Picture: Annette Dew

"We do whatever we can to make sure that wherever possible we act as a circuit breaker to events that occur like that."

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said he would meet with Mayor Pam Parker this afternoon.

He said Premier Campbell Newman and Treasurer Tim Nicholls had spoken to her this morning to "alleviate her concerns".

Mr Dempsey said 100 extra police were being allocated to the region this year, with another 25 officers going to the district in February.

Racial violence erupts in Logan again on Monday afternoon. Picture: Channel Seven News

Earlier,  Premier Newman joined police in appealing for calm, while Ms Parker demanded an immediate increase in police presence and a "zero tolerance" approach in the south-eastern Queensland multicultural community.

Both sides claim racial tensions are behind the violence, which started after cars were vandalised on Saturday night.

Logan District Superintendent Noel Powers said today's efforts would be focused on getting some "rational talking and decision making" going on among community leaders.

"Today's aim is to put a lid on it and let this community get back to their normal life," he told the ABC this morning.

Police separate feuding families in Logan on Monday afternoon. Picture: Channel Nine News

Soane Palau needed eight stitches for a head wound he said was sustained outside his home while defending his family from an angry mob early yesterday.

He has lived in Douglas St for five years with his eight children, including four adult sons, and said it was the first incident of its kind.

He said the violence came from run-ins over a period of years between Islander and Aboriginal residents.

"As Tongans we are very friendly people and we want to leave it that way," Mr Palau, 47, said. "Because of what has happened before with Pacific Islander boys, we copped it as well. They look at us and think we're all the same but we're not. We want to live in peace."

Racial violence in Logan. Picture: Channel Seven News

Colin Barlow, from the rival house down the road, said he was forced to hide as Islanders pelted the home with bricks and threatened to set it alight on Saturday night.

"There were 11 of us all in the back room with the door locked, cupboards pushed up against it," he said. "My son was next to the door with a knife. He said 'I'm going to die before I let anyone hurt my family'. As far as the Aboriginal people are concerned, it is racial. It's been going on for too long. People being attacked, set upon, the same group of people."

The area has attracted growing attention after a series of tragic encounters, including the death of Aboriginal youth Jackson Doolan, 17, last month.

Relatives claim Jackson was hit by a train after a confrontation with Islanders but police said he was alone at the time.

CONFRONTATION: Tensions between people and police in Douglas Street at Woodridge. Picture: Peter Wallis

Residents said tensions dated back to the bashing death of Richard Saunders, the uncle of rugby league star Johnathan Thurston, in a Woodridge park in 2008.

Douglas St residents say they fear for their safety after watching the violence unfold.

"There were people pulling up in cars and walking up the street with batons," one said.

"That went on for a good two hours. After the police had been called cars were still pulling over to the side of the road and people were walking up there with batons."

TENSION: Police search people in Douglas Street in Woodridge. Picture: Peter Wallis

Premier Campbell Newman has called for a briefing on the brawls, as police defended alleged delays in responding to emergency calls.

Logan Superintendent Noel Powers cited a shift change as a factor in police taking almost 30 minutes to reach the street after the initial 000 call on Saturday night.

Officers took about 10 minutes to arrive yesterday morning after the second fight and extra police remained last night as a precaution.

"It just takes one or two hot heads, a bit of alcohol and a bit of violence and it disrupts all the work we've been aiming towards," Supt Powers said.

Cr Parker said the region was seriously under-policed.

"We've got 25 more (police) coming in at the end of February but we need that doubled as soon as possible," she said.

"The assisting police do a great job, but we need additional police in the area."

She said she had requested to speak with the police commissioner to discuss the community's bubbling tensions.

Cr Parker lamented the behaviour of the "one per cent" of the Logan community stigmatising the various cultures represented in the city, of which there are about 215.

"Two wrongs don't make a right, those involved need to work with the elders and the police to solve their differences in a calm manner," she said.

Logan already has about 300 CCTV cameras but Cr Parker said she was hoping to have more installed in more hotspot locations.

"The city is being brought into disrepute ... and frankly, we've had enough," she said.

Late yesterday afternoon, it was all police could do to control a large group of Pacific Islanders who tried to march down to a group of Aboriginals just before 7pm as violence threatened to spiral out of control again.

Members of the large group tore posts from wood fences to use as weapons, but police were able to control the incident.





Federal LNP MP Andrew Laming weighed in to the Logan race tensions last night, with a tweet asking if any of those involved had jobs or if it was "business as usual & welfare on tap".

Logan's top cop says social media is killing all the good work done by police to work with Logan's cultural communities

Members of the Aboriginal community attended Logan Central police station to demand those behind weekend brawls be deported.

Racial tensions intensified following the death of Aboriginal youth Jackson Doolan, 17, who was hit by a train after a confrontation with three men last month.

Police also appealed for calm following the death of Jordan Tukaki, who was run down by a car during a brawl between islander and African youth.

- reporting by David Murray, Brittany Vonow, Thomas Chamberlin, Kate McKenna and AAP

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